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State investigates why it never learned of abuse of special education student

ST. MARTIN, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi education officials confirmed Friday that they investigating why they never learned of mistreatment of a special education student, even though a school superintendent says he reported it.

The Mississippi Department of Education in investigating incidents involving a Jackson County student in 2014 and 2015.

A video shows then-special education teacher Kerri Ann Nettles repeatedly yelling at the 14-year-old girl before stuffing a towel into the child’s mouth.

Another video shows then-bus driver Antioinette Jane Raymond threatening to take the St. Martin girl to jail, choke her or kill her if she doesn’t stop talking. The driver eventually sits on top of the child to subdue her.

State rules require superintendents to report misconduct to the department within 10 days of learning about it.

Jackson County Superintendent Barry Amacker said he acted immediately, noting Nettles and Raymond were fired a day after the videos surfaced. The district asked the Jackson County sheriff’s office to investigate.

Amaker said records show the district emailed the state about Nettles’ actions. He said he has now sent an updated report.

“The Jackson County school district acted swiftly and responsibly in dealing with this matter,” Amaker said in a written statement.

Nettles was convicted in April of misdemeanor child neglect and simple assault.

Raymond faces misdemeanor charges of simple assault and contributing to child delinquency, neglect or abuse.

Mississippi Department of Education spokeswoman Patrice Guilfoyle said Nettles’ license is expired and the state wouldn’t let her renew it without a hearing on sanctions. Bus drivers don’t get state education licenses, and thus the state can’t control Raymond’s future employment.